'If You Don't Arrest Him, He'll Kill Me,' She Said. The Next Day, He Did, Police Say

Stephanie Riddle tried to get away from him. 

On July 2, 2016, the mother of five told her boyfriend, Jerrell Berger, that she was ending their relationship due to his repeated physical abuse.

He responded by pulling several braids of hair from her scalp, prosecutors said. He then struck her several times in the face with a metal vacuum cleaner, causing a large cut on her forehead that required stitches to close.

Stephanie Riddle called police after the attack.

Berger was arrested and charged with family violence. A misdemeanor. 

Two days later, despite four prior convictions, including aggravated battery against another woman, Berger was granted $2,000 bond by a Fulton County magistrate judge.

On July 6, Berger paid the $200 bond fee and was set free.

Berger ignored the bond's condition to stay away from Riddle. He went straight to her house and confronted her.

Alarmed neighbors called 911.

As police arrived, Berger reportedly walked away from the home.

Riddle told police, 'If you don't arrest him, he is going to kill me."

The next day, he did, police said.

According to the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, Berger went to the hotel that Riddle worked at in Hapeville, chased her into a room and shot her six times. The last shot, execution-style at her head.

Hapeville police arrested Berger.

On Oct. 31, 2017, Berger pleaded guilty to murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated battery, one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The judge sentenced Berger to 35 years in prison.

“Ms. Riddle did everything right. She did everything she could to stay alive, but now she is the person dead. These cases continue to happen in our county and will continue to happen until our system carefully evaluates such incidents and substantially changes what we are doing.  This is an unspeakable tragedy that should not have ended in this fashion. Ms. Riddle should be alive,” said Fulton County District Attorney, Paul Howard, Jr.

Information in this story was provided by the Fulton County District Attorney's Office.

 

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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